The Democrat War on Women
Going it Alone in Fishtown
If the Pursuit of Happiness is our primary, God-given, unalienable rights, then young women in the inner city are getting the short shrift on happiness. Eight decades of Leftist, Democrat social policy, programs built on debit cards and free services, erected to lift up the inner city incomes have largely created a war on women that leaves them far short of life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness. These women wind up marrying Uncle Sam and Going It Alone with only a debit card largess from dear Sammie. Were money the key to happiness this year’s $2 trillion in Federal anti-poverty spending should have made lots of poor women very happy.
In ‘Coming Apart’ Charles Murray summarizes a set of key factors that produce high levels of happiness. The social habits driving these variables are published in the General Social Survey executed annually for the last five decades by the University of Chicago. These behaviors when linked together in our lives attain higher and higher levels of happiness. They are industriousness, marriage, weekly worship and social trust. As Murray points out, citizens in the very top economic rung (Belmont) have clung to these conventions over the last five decades while the citizens in the less prosperous zip codes (Fishtown) have seen commitment to this habits fall, and with them their happiness.
That Jefferson inked the pursuit of happiness as one of three essential unalienable rights along with liberty and life is a crucial founding insight. Our pursuit of happiness is a shared American bond. When our freedom to pursue happiness is ubiquitous, governance is at its best. When floundering, as it is in the inner city, it describe the consumptive failure of government. As Murray points, out vast swaths of our culture is having a harder and harder time finding happiness. Over the last 8 decades our activist, Federal government has attempted to see to every possible poor person’s need, especially the women in our society. If their needs are truly being met, why, then, is happiness going south in Murray’s Fishtown but stable in Belmont. The answer lay with social policy that gives poor Women a Fish, a government debit card or chit, instead of policy that enriches human capital and human connections. Suckling on Uncle Sam’s checking account has a degenerative downside.
Who are these women slinking down the ladder of happiness? Many live in Murray’s Fishtown but also reside in zip codes another economic rung down. These women are likely live in one of the largest 50 American cites, and are likely to have a diploma of questionable quality or may have never finished high school as dropout rates exceeds 50% in a third of these cities. Regardless the quality of school, the culture of education has eroded and less value is placed on education by far too many parents in these poorer zip codes. Few will have built good study habits and industriousness associated with challenging coursework and so even those that graduate will need to learn the value of hard work, timeliness and working collaboratively.
Without an education, obtaining a job, work that would give some sense of satisfaction and produce not only a level of financial stability but some additional level of happiness, is a huge challenge. What jobs that may available are difficult to come by and generally not full time. Competition from illegal immigrants has further reduced the supply of entry level jobs. Worse, a rising minimum wage and the rising tide of government employer mandates make it harder and harder to acquire an entry level job without a diploma. Education is a crucial human capital building block, a key to expanding one’s social network. Without it, getting on the first rung of success is severely hampered.
Happiness is further disrupted as these young woman age into her twenties. Young men are having the same problem. Without an education, finding work is hard. Finding a job that will increase the young man’s skillset and pay is even harder. Worse, many of the young men are doing drugs, selling drugs or already in prison, vastly reducing the pool of potential partners for women. Instead of an expanding social network of friends, workers, family and potential marriage partners, a woman’s network is dwindling away. A federal debit card here and there makes her meager budget balance, but the dollars do not build her social, emotional, or human capital networks.
The casualties of this Democrat War on Women are not only the women whose access to the pursuit of happiness is drying up, it is also includes the people who never showed up on the field of battle. As her mother likely never married, her father’s half of the success army never materialized. She garners less than half the family connections of her married counterparts. There was no father to share the work of getting homework completed; no father to help build good study habits, no father to help with the daily tasks, so the child’s human capital suffered. As she grew in to adulthood, additional capital from learning job skills were limited as a lack of education deprived her of the vast majority of jobs where additional skills could be expanded helping inch her up the economic ladder. Where her youthful social network should be growing, the road to Go It Alone was beginning. These women are getting sucked into a Democrat-inspired social welfare singularity.
So what’s a young woman to do as she is faced with poor schools, a drooping civil culture, a lack of work that might lead to some degree of success, and a shrinking pool of male partners? Three of the success factors that lead to happiness are out of reach. How does one attain some level of happiness?
Go back to school and graduate. Work two or three jobs to build up her finances and resumé so ascending to a better life is possible? Move to where the pool of potential partners is better, where marriage might be possible? Increase her human network in every way possible including going to church or joining a civic organization. Apparently not. These choices are seldom chosen.
As the government was not able to educate this young lady or her potential marriage partners, as it created numerous barriers to job creation, especially semi-skilled entry level jobs both in the inner city and in the country in general; as government fosters an ‘any anything goes arrangement’ for family, this young lady is unable to build a network of friends, family, educators, and job associations. She becomes more and more out of touch with healthy social and cultural habits until she is pushed to a single easy choice.
Uncle Sam Beckons: Take that first debit card from the government! That first step was likely something simple like applying for food stamps or Medicaid to get the Pill. These were small Fish, given by government. But these first steps were effective in further breaking down the social habits that produce an acquired education, hard work, family and faith.
When the traditional paths to happiness are cut off, our unenlightened social policy maneuvers women in to a single choice: Marry Uncle Sam. He is the only marriageable man, the only one that can pay for the delivery of the baby, for the care when needed, for rent and energy, for food and doctor visits. Uncle Sam is the most viable husband. He has the biggest checkbook in the neighborhood. None of the men in the marriage talent pool could ever be such a grand provider. Women with few choices are able to garner a bit of happiness with a child. But with her marriage to Uncle Sam these women are alone, permanently poor, in a new network of three: her government debit card, herself, and her baby. She is going it alone, Democrat style.
This is a terrible war on women, and this war produces causalities in the millions and growing. Medicaid pays for about half of the nearly 4 million births in the US. Half of these births, or more, are in the inner city where Mom married Uncle Sam, the virtual husband she fatally cuffed to in his den of financial isolation.
Uncle Sam’s debit card, social welfare programs, borne out of Progressivism’s ‘Give a Man A Fish’ approach, quietly guides a million or more women each year away from the path to happiness. This unenlightened approach is as mean-spirited as one can imagine as the Debit is given with a grin and a knowing wink from politicians that hide the fact that this bride will be betrothed to a fictitious government man that would assure her human capital stagnated, that her social capital stalled to a network of only a few people, and that her cultural capital simply died.
The give a man a fish approach is based on a single failed notion, that equalizing income with debits and chits will improve the lives of the poor. Yet Murray’s Coming Apart shows that when people in both the poor and rich zip codes engage in marriage, industriousness, church and social trust, their happiness quotients are equivalent. This tells a story that we all already know, that money can’t buy love. It also can’t buy happiness. America spends nearly $2 trillion a year on a set of Give a Man a Fish programs that common sense tells us is a fool’s mission.
The flank of this awful war on women is a war on men, especially poor men – which produces much the same outcomes: poor education, lack of jobs or skills to build an industrious culture, and without these results in an inability to compete with Uncle Sam for available brides. The result is a growing permanent underclass of citizens, who by Murray’s reckoning, have significantly less access to their Pursuit of Happiness than the rest of America. Access to an education and jobs and family and church of social institutions, to the very things that produce happiness are cordoned off by are army of federal social engineers rifling debits cards from the Left. With human capital decayed and human networks diminished, the last choice is to take up arms with the federal debit army and march down the road to lonely lives of quiet, government-sponsored desperation.
We can do better. But wiser men and women are needed to lead the break up our social monopolies and discover solutions that provide better choices to all men and women, not just the citizens of Belmont.